Get the edge: Top lessons from other industries

by Alan Hartstein June 28, 2016

When looking for ways to work better and smarter, it’s natural that you might tend to narrow your focus to competitors in the broking industry. And while you can certainly learn a lot from observing businesses that do similar things, the wider business world is a great source of ideas that could help your business function better and ultimately grow.

Here’s a sample of different sectors, and some behaviours you could adopt to improve your operations.

Human resources: Extracting the best

In HR, daily life is more than hiring and firing, policies and payroll. The human resources sector’s main role is to improve organisational productivity by finding, nurturing and keeping the best talent.

The HR sector understands that people are a business’s most valuable commodity. If you work in or manage a team, view them through an HR lens to find ways to improve their work life.

Formal activities like training, incentives and goal setting can lead to greater company efficiency, but you shouldn’t undervalue ‘soft’ activities like regular praise and encouragement. Studies have shown that engaged employees average 21% higher productivity than their less engaged counterparts, and are less likely to leave.

Leading HR organisations are also masters of change management – they understand that the workforce is constantly shifting, so they need to be able to predict talent shortages in various locations and divisions before they occur.

If you’re in a partnership or have your own staff, it’s vital to create a positive workplace environment. When your team is engaged and inspired, your whole business will feel the effects.

Marketing: Your message and your brand

The role of marketers is to make people aware of a company’s products and services in as favourable a light as possible. The best marketers are the ones that can cut through the ‘noise’ to get people to notice two things – message and brand.

In an increasingly competitive environment, you can channel the marketer’s mind to refine the ways you represent your business, and the channels you use to communicate your services. The best marketing professionals think holistically about advertising, business promotions, special offers, events and conferences, and social media.

Rather than just hitting every channel as hard as possible, good marketing identifies where the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ is for generating goodwill, brand awareness and – ultimately – leads that become clients.

As a mortgage broker, you can learn a lot from successful marketers. Take a step back and view your business as an outsider might. Consider everything from your website, logo and print collateral to your reception area, office atmosphere and even the events you attend. Be clear about the image you want to portray, and then be consistent in everything you do.

Your website is a good starting point as it could be your most important client-acquisition tool if you do it right. Digital campaigns, promotions and even live events are smart marketing techniques that can be used in the broking sector.

It’s also important to take advantage of social media . You can market yourself and your business on social channels through positioning yourself as a thought leader (on LinkedIn, for example) and engaging in conversations with your customers (Facebook).

Technology companies: User-centred products; compatible teams

Technology companies are some of the biggest, most successful enterprises in the world. They are, by their very nature, as innovative as any business can be, constantly embracing the new and dispensing with out-of-date ideas. They understand that you can never rest on your success and that no industry is immune from rapid change.

One thing the founders of Microsoft, Apple, Intel and Google all had in common was that they built products with their end users in mind. This customer-centred approach is as applicable to broking as it is to tech. Genuinely believing in what you’re marketing and selling will go a long way to making your customers feel the same way, and providing something that makes their lives better could be the competitive edge you need.

Examples everywhere

Think of your favourite brands and businesses. What do they do that keeps you coming back? Customer service? The fact they remember your name? Is it the only place you can get a particular product you love? By thinking about how businesses in all sectors succeed, you can expand your own vision for your broking business.

Contact your PLAN Australia Business Development Manager about how you can adopt new business practices to drive growth.

Alan Hartstein

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Alan Hartstein has worked in publishing for over 20 years, as a reporter and a senior sub-editor, most recently on The Australian Financial Review and before that on BRW magazine. He currently writes and edits content for a range of magazines, newsletters, blogs, quarterly publications and websites, primarily in the financial services and IT sectors.

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